The Washington area staggered uncertainly toward normalcy yesterday after Monday's snow, but harder-hit communities in eastern and northern Maryland still were immobilized from the worst winter storm in a dozen years.

Snow accumulations ranging from 12 to 24 inches isolated hundreds of homes throughout the rural Eastern Shore. Stores and shops in numerous towns were closed. Snow removal crews working 16-hour shifts fought a losing battle with wind-driven snow that poured back on the roads as soon as it was cleared.

Closer to Washington, recovery was quicker, but most area schools remained closed for the day and some commuters were delayed by slippery roads on the way to work.

Air, train and bus travel in the region continued to be disrupted. Constant winds and sub-freezing temperatures made life miserable for man and beast.

The meteorological monster responsible for all this is a huge, slow-moving storm system off Cape Cod that still was pounding much of New England with high winds and unrelenting snows late yesterday.

The center of the storm skirted Washington Monday but it plowed up the Delmarva peninsula, dumping the heaviest snows there since the blizzard of 1966, when 18 to 24 inches of snow blanketed the entire region.

Monday's snow left the Eastern Shore early quiet yesterday. Many secondary roads were closed. Traffic on main roads was reduced.

"We ain't had nobody today," said Leroy Dyes, an employe of the almost-empty Stucky's store in Grasonville just east of Kent Island.

Gene Smith, owner of an auto parts store in Grasonville, who had stopped by Stuckey's for a midday snack, said, "My wife (works) there, but it might as well be closed."

In Easton, several stores on Washington Street, the main road across from the courthouse, were closed. Trader's Drug Store was open but reported a smaller than normal lunch-time crowd.

State Police helicopters airlifted two persons to hospitals in eastern Maryland -- one a pregnant woman marooned in a Cecil County house surrounded by 12-foot snow drifts, the other a boy who had become stranded on Tangier Island in the Virginia portion of Chesapeake Bay.

Despite the deep snows and chilling winds, no deaths or serious injuries were reported. The National Weather Service reported snow accumulations ranging from 12 inches at Easton to 6 inches at Pocomoke City further south. Authorities in Cecil County at the head of Chesapeake Bay, however, reported depths of 24 inches. Wilmington and Dover, Del., to the east both recorded 15 inches.

BALTIMORE registered official 9 inches of snow, and Annapolis had 14. Washington received only about 3 inches.

Bitterly cold weather prevailed yesterday, a continuation of almost two straight weeks of below-normal temperatures caused by northerly winds bringing in wintry Canadan air.

The cold kept some roads icy in the Washington area, but city and suburban road officials reported that most major commuter arterial roads were in fairly good condition by late yesterday.

The freezing weather continued to plague Metro trains, however, causing exposed track switches to stick. Although most of the switches are equipped with electric heaters, the heaters have little effect against blowing snow, officials said.

'We have a guy physically sweep the snow out of the switch, then move the switch," said Anthony Stefanae, general superitendent of Metro's rail operations. "As soon as we try to move the switch back, snow will have blown into it again."

National, Dulles International and Baltimore-Washington International Airports were open yesterday, but many flights to northern cities were cancelled because of severe weather. Eastern Airlines' New York shuttle was not expected to resume until 3 p.m. are scheruled to reopen.

Amtrak trains were running 15 minutes to an hour late in and out of Washington, "and we're only running every other Metroliner to New York," said an Amtrak spokesman.

A number of federal agencies spotchecked by the Washington Post reported that many employees were delayed getting to work yesterday but that absenteeism was not abnormally high.

The National Weather Service called for diminishing winds but continued cold today with high temperatures in the mid-to-upper 20s.

The weather service also called for a chance of more snow Thursday or Friday in parts of the Maryland-Virginia-Delaware region.